Security Council unanimously backs move to deploy UN police in Burundi

1st April 2016, Comments 0 comments

The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution that lays the groundwork for deploying a UN police presence in Burundi to help quell nearly a year of violence.

Drafted by France, the resolution tasks UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with drawing up within 15 days a list of options for the proposed police force, in consultation with the Burundian government and the African Union.

The council is under pressure to take action in Burundi where the descent into violence has raised fears of mass atrocities, similar to those that convulsed neighboring Rwanda in 1994.

"We need the United Nations to be more present on the ground," French Ambassador Francois Delattre told the council.

The resolution will help the international community "respond quickly to avoid the worst," he said.

The vote capped days of tough negotiations between France and the United States over the wording of the resolution, the second measure adopted by the council over the Burundi crisis.

The resolution provides for the "deployment of a United Nations police contribution to increase the United Nations capacity to monitor the security situation, promote the respect of human rights and advance rule of law" in Burundi.

The text does not specify the size of the proposed police force but Burundi's UN Ambassador Albert Shingiro said he expected between 20 and 30 police to be deployed as "experts and observers."

"For the government, it is very important to have an international presence in Bujumbura in order to work in transparency," Shingiro told reporters ahead of the vote.

After France pushed for a quick vote, the United States had complained that the text was rushed through and argued for more time to consider the measure, diplomats said.

The final revised text dropped a reference to UN support for "disarmament" in Burundi -- a term that the United States saw as a potential source of problems after the Burundian government launched a crackdown to disarm opposition activists.

Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans last April to run for a third term, which he went on to win.

Violence has left more than 400 dead and driven more than 250,000 people across the border.

© 2016 AFP

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